New Jersey’s Governor Jon Corzine finally got a final report from the commission on rationalizing healthcare resources he created by executive order just over 15 months ago. Unlike the Berger Commission in the neighboring Empire State (which issued its final report just after the N.J. commission was authorized), the N.J. commission did not recommend specific hospital closures, but did recommend that the state CON requirements for hospital closures be revisited (one of the things I was involved with when I worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — the old Acute Hospital Conversion Board).
The N.J. commission, headed by Uwe Reinhardt, also clearly advised against bailing out bondholders of any hospitals that do end up getting shut down, perhaps anticipating, in part, panhandling that may have been encouraged by the Berger Commission approach. (As a law school professor of mine was fond of saying, "You pays your money, you takes your chances.")
This is a dense, comprehensive report that will bear further reading and analysis. The challenge to Governor Corzine will be to take the recommendations of the commission to heart and to make, or authorize, some unpopular decisions — so that hospital closure and consolidation, which is likely unavoidable, can take place in as orderly a fashion as possible. The challenge to the hospital community is to begin to engage in self-examination and self-improvement, and in review and development of strategic alliances, so that they will have as much of an impact as possible on the design of New Jersey’s future hospital landscape.